I was always a space geek when I was a kid, I’d get endless books from the library about planets. Never was that fussed with practical astronomy, it was always dark and cold and I could never find many stars because of the light pollution. Later I had CD-ROMs with images from various craft, with atmospheric spacey-sounding soundtracks. I still live for that shit, though I don’t really get that excited by things they are looking for now, it’s all a bit too theoretical, or at least practically invisible. I’m old-school, I just like the Moon and I still count Pluto.
So naturally I was excited to see the trailer for “Gravity” at the start of the year, even though the real-life ISS was in the midst of some drama, a leak of some kind. “Gravity” and its depiction of the terminal failure of a spacecraft ironically felt a bit close to home. This unease at how real it felt (despite the setting at the furthest reach of real-life science) also made it compelling. The ISS is OK now fortunately, so I was left to froth over the prospect of this blockbuster on the way, as well as an ascendant Sandra Bullock breaking out of her usual roles.
“Gravity” didn’t disappoint at all, I’m still reeling from it. It’s going to be hard to really describe it without telling any of the story, so I’ll keep it as vague. Dr Stone (Bullock) and Kowalski (George Clooney) are carrying out some maintenance on the Hubble Space telescope when debris causes the mission to be aborted, and leaving the pair in a desperate attempt to get back to Earth against insane odds. That’s all you’re getting out of me story-wise.
Something about it made me not take anything for granted, I really didn’t know how the film was going to end until the credits came up. People are giving Bullock Oscar buzz, I’d love for that to happen, but I’ve never been much of a judge. I thought she was great though, despite being given a few hammy cowboy lines later on, it was a very believable and relatable character.
Visually the thing was incredible. Of course, like I said I live for this space stuff, and the visuals were predominantly these awesome Earthscapes, broken up with some intense effects sequences. I didn’t get a good grip on the sound, but it was certainly used to great effect. The trailer was subtly misleading (in several ways), including sound effects. Happy to play it straight with the science, a lot of emphasis was put on nearly deafening volume and total silence. A few moments I was curling up, not sure quite HOW loud they were going to make it, but it really worked well. Otherwise, dull underwater-feeling thuds represented all the sound Stone encountered in space.
Oh, I sat in D-Box seats too, the moving chairs. I think it was worth it, even though it felt like it had to be doing something the whole time, usually rolling around to simulate zero-G. I think all the little bumps and thuds really helped though. It WAS an immersive experience though, and D-Box certainly contributed. In one part where Stone is out of control, I noticed myself trying to hook my feet under the bar in front of me, as if I was trying to cling on too. Even walking to my car, a tiny part of me was thinking “You’re coming in too fast”, or that I had to grab on to the car before I drifted straight past. Totally bonkers.
I’m not going to examine the science TOO much, because I think generally the rules were obeyed, and I didn’t pick anything up that immediately made me think “WTF that would never happen”. Sure, the sequence of events had pretty long odds, but wasn’t that the point? There’s a difference between the laws of physics and suspending your disbelief, so people need to get over that.
A brilliant film anyway, totally different from anything I’ve seen before, and had me gripped the whole way.